Ah, the New Year! A clean slate, a fresh start, a new beginning—365 days of possibilities. Are you one of those folks who sets a slew of New Year’s Resolutions, including losing weight, only to find yourself unable to live up to those very high expectations?
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghDecember 29, 2022 body positive, body positivity, fad diets, health coach, healthy eating, healthy food, Intermittent fasting, keto diet, ketogenic diet, new years resolution, new years resolutions, resolutions, weight loss, weight management0 comments
Back when I taught fitness classes at various gyms, my classes would be PACKED in January with those dewy-eyed resolutioners who were determined to make a plethora of changes in a very short time. By the end of February, my classes would be back to regular sizes with my tried and true students who were glad things were getting back to normal.
As a Health Coach, I am not a fan of the grandiose expectations attached to the start of a new year. And here is why—we are programmed to revert to our existing habits when life starts to get busy, complicated, or difficult. Instead, I would encourage you as I encourage my clients, to take small, actionable steps that will eventually lead you to create new and healthier habits.
Take a marathon runner for example, they don’t wake up and decide to run 26 miles the first day. Instead, they slowly build up their body’s ability to handle both the physical and the mental aspect of running for an extended period of time. This is the beauty of challenging yourself to take baby steps toward your health and life goals. Just like a house needs a solid foundation to build upon, so does your health.
Let’s be honest, most people can lose weight fairly easily. Fad diets are popular because they are relatively successful in the weight loss aspect! But when you take a deeper look at some of the most popular ones at the moment such as Keto, Paleo, or Intermittent Fasting, you’ll find the issues lie within the principles of the plan.
Take Keto, where at the beginning of the plan you may experience flu-like symptoms as your body starts to adjust to the extreme changes to your diet. Or intermittent fasting where there are basically no parameters to what you eat, only when you can eat.
When attempting these diets, ask yourself these two questions, 1. Can I sustain this for the rest of my life? and 2. What am I learning? This isn’t to say that folks don’t have success on these plans, but it is something to consider when thinking through what you are willing to sacrifice on your journey to lifelong health. If I am being honest with myself, I could never commit to a plan where I will never eat Christmas cookies or birthday cake again. And Keto fat bomb versions of these are not something I am willing to substitute.
This is the beauty of working with a health coach, I am the voice of reason in the swirling vortex that is the health and wellness industry. And I will hold you accountable for the choices you are making while encouraging you along your path to whole health.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghDecember 21, 2022 compassion, conflict resolution, conversations for couples, couples communication, couples counseling, couples therapy, gratitude, making up after fights, marriage, marriage counseling, new years resolutions, relationship, relationship conflict, relationship resolutions, resolutions0 comments
Setting Couples New Year’s Resolutions is a great way to create a stronger connection, reinforce your bond, and set expectations for the future. Having shared goals can help you both stick to your promises—the more effort you two put in, the stronger the relationship. If you’re looking for some goals to work toward with your partner, this list of 6 Relationship Resolutions for 2023 is the perfect place to start.
1. Make a conflict management plan: this will allow you both to have your unique emotional constitutions respected, as well as forming a plan for how to manage healthy conflict in your relationship. A plan for conflict implies that disagreements are not inherently a problem but aims at tackling issues in the relationship that can cause small issues to become much bigger. It also brings awareness about how emotions play into your disagreements and what to do so that there is a smaller likelihood that trigger topics spiral out of control.
2. Make a vision board for your relationship and what you want in the next month, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years and 5 years! Once you’re done, put your vision board in a place you’ll see often because when you see something that inspires you on a daily basis, you stay on track. You can even take a picture of it and use it as your phone wallpaper.
3. Create an environment of appreciation between yourself and your partner. Catch your partner doing three things a week that you are grateful for. Share this with each other at the end of each week.
4. It is commonplace to be consumed by work, children, and finances that we literally forget how important it is to carve out quality time with our partners. Schedule date nights every other month. Pick the day (time and place can come later). Having a planned date is a great way to maintain a sense of adventure and fun in your relationship—it ensures time to build emotional intimacy and check in with each other.
5. Make rituals that honor your birthday, anniversary, holidays, and other landmark events through time. Celebrating the passage of time is a key component of how relationship masters keep their relationship well.
6. Choose compassion over being right. So many relationships suffer because our egos become gridlocked in the pattern of trying to be correct instead of being understanding and loving towards our partners and loved ones! Keep this in mind and always remember it is our kindness and care which nurtures those that surround us!
Written by Marriage Counselor and Founder of the Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh, Stephanie Wijkstrom.
Interested in Couples Counseling?
Fill out the form below or contact us at 412-322-2129.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghDecember 7, 2022 counseling for trauma, help for trauma victims, resilience to trauma, therapy for trauma, trauma, trauma counseling, trauma informed care, trauma therapy, types of trauma, what is trauma0 comments
What is Trauma?
When you hear the word trauma or trauma counseling what comes to mind? It is common for people to hear the word trauma and think of those one-time catastrophic events (car accidents, assault, robbery, natural disasters, etc.) that result in major injuries like broken bones, head injuries, or lacerations, and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder such as flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, increased startle response, etc. This perception of trauma causes people to minimize their suffering and postpone receiving treatment that helps them heal and increase their quality of life.
So, what is trauma, and who experiences it? Trauma is anything that overwhelms the mind and body and happens too fast, too soon, or too much. It causes physiological, neurological, chemical, and hormonal changes that impact memory and cognition; often resulting in:
- Emotional dysregulation
- Lack of trust in yourself, others, and the world
- Mental health illness
- Chronic pain
- Inflammatory disease
What Types of Trauma Are There?
“Big T” traumas, like those catastrophic events listed above, are the most obvious and lead people to seek treatment to help them learn to cope and move past the event. “Little t” traumas are the things we experienced regularly throughout our lives that we may have been conditioned to accept as part of life or growing up. Some of these experiences may include:
- Being bullied
- Witnessing violence
- Lack of constant care during childhood
- Lack of emotional validation
- Having a caregiver who struggled with mental illness and/or substance use
- Incarceration or having a loved one who was incarcerated
- Experiencing discrimination due to race, gender, age, socioeconomic status, or religious affiliation
- Lack of autonomy
- Lack of affection
- Being isolated, yelled at, or controlled by others
This does not mean that everyone who has experienced these things is traumatized. Traumatization is dependent on several biological and environmental factors that influence perception and physiological regulation.
What Kinds of Trauma Counseling Can Help?
What kind of help is there? Trauma is a multifaceted and complex phenomenon that traps itself in the body and the brain keeping you in survival mode at a physiological level. Trauma treatment is an evidence-based technique that walks you through specific stages of treatment to ensure a felt-sense of safety, agency, and autonomy, empowering the client to take control of their lives leaving the past in the past. Certified trauma specialists and professionals can help unlock the trauma trapped in your brain, muscles, nervous system, and adrenal/endocrine system so that you can feel safe in your body and the world. Some of the effective treatments include but are not limited to:
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) targets upsetting life experiences that have not been stored properly in memory areas of the brain and are triggered more easily by similar events or negative personal beliefs. Unprocessed or blocked traumatic memories need help from therapies such as EMDR to become processed or unblocked.
IFS (Internal Family Systems) is an approach to psychotherapy that identifies and addresses multiple sub-personalities or families within each person’s mental system.
Sensorimotor psychotherapy (SP) integrates the body and movement into traditional talk therapy to address and heal ongoing psychological and physical difficulties.
Narrative Exposure Therapy: With the guidance of the therapist, a patient establishes a chronological narrative of their life, concentrating mainly on their traumatic experiences, but also incorporating some positive events. It is believed that this contextualizes the network of cognitive, affective and sensory memories of a patient’s trauma. By expressing the narrative, the patient fills in details of fragmentary memories and develops a coherent autobiographical story. In so doing, the memory of a traumatic episode is refined and understood.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a short term evidence-based treatment for PTSD and other related disorders. CPT is based in cognitive theory and helps individuals to recognize the impact that the traumatic event has had on their thoughts and beliefs, feelings and behaviors.
How Do I Know if I Should Seek Trauma Therapy?
If you experience any of the following it may be beneficial for you to see a professional who can help you sort through your experiences and move forward in life:
- You are easily startled
- Flashbacks or nightmares of the event
- Feeling afraid but not knowing why
- A generalized distrust in yourself, others, and the world
- You notice a pattern of unhealthy relationships throughout your life
- Feelings of restment
- Unmanaged anger
- Avoidance of certain people, places, or things
- Unexplainable body aches and pains
- Chronic pain, inflammation, or fatigue
- Easily triggered
- Persistent feelings of sadness
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, reaching out to a professional can help you determine if trauma therapy is right for you.
Interested in Starting Trauma Therapy?
Fill out the form below or contact us at 412-322-2129 to begin trauma counseling.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 17). Infographic: 6 guiding principles to a trauma-informed approach. https://www.cdc.gov/cpr/infographics/6_principles_trauma_info.htm
Levine, P. A. (1997). Waking the tiger: Healing trauma: The innate capacity to transform overwhelming experiences. North Atlantic Books.
American Psychological Association (2017, July 31). https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/treatments/narrative-exposure-therapy
Psychology Today (2022, May 20). https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/internal-family-systems-therapy
Bartella, A. (2011, October). Sensorimotor psychotherapy: A somatic path to treat trauma. The Trauma & Mental Health Report. Retrieved from https://trauma.blog.yorku.ca/2011/10/sensorimotor-psychotherapy-a-somatic-path-to-trauma-treatment/